It’s complicated, research outfit says on Muslims’ relationship with Islam

Research shows while Muslims in the country support Islam as a major part of governance, they are open to accommodation with non-Muslims as well.

PETALING JAYA: Studies by market research outfit Kajidata Research show that while Muslims in the country support Islam as a major part of governance, they are open to accommodation with non-Muslims as well.

It said two studies, one in 2014 and the other in 2017, showed that 81% of respondents want more pro-Islamic policies including hudud legislation, and 77% are happy with federal government policies regarding the inculcation of Islamic values.

Seventy-four percent would be open to the imposition of hudud as national law, and 87% would not accept a non-Muslim as prime minister.

However, 86% said they would like a third language like Mandarin or Tamil to be taught at national schools to enhance national unity while 55% are “agreeable” to special rights being given only to disadvantaged Bumiputeras.

Ninety percent, meanwhile, feel that their relationship with their non-Muslim neighbours is good.

“The relationship that Malaysian Muslims have with Islam is a multifaceted one,” Kajidata said in a statement.

Citing a 2015 survey by Pew Research Center which said 11% of Malaysian Muslims have a positive view of the Islamic State group, it cautioned against a simplistic understanding of the matter.

It suggested that the idea of an Islamic state promising good governance and “boundless prosperity” might be less attractive if Malaysian Muslims felt that the country’s development was more equitably shared.

It referred to statistics stating, among others, that 75% of Malaysians are unable to raise RM1,000 in an emergency and that the household income gap between Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras tripled between 1995 and 2016.

“A combination of religious fervour and economic hardship may lead to increasing hardline pressure on political parties to compete on out-Islamising each other.

“While Malaysia is unlikely to face the same challenges as the Arab world, one precaution against extremism that must be taken is to at least ensure that Malaysia’s development does not leave behind its many Muslims,” it said.

Kajidata’s 2014 study saw 4,897 Malaysian Muslims above 21 years of age from all states and territories interviewed by telephone between April 19 and May 24 that year as part of its survey on Malay sentiments towards politics and religion.

Its 2017 study saw 1,041 Malaysian Muslims of the same criteria interviewed between July 10 and 18 that year.